Gone Girl (2014) — Handheld Camera — Absence Highlights Presence

*SPOILER ALERT!* Not the whole plot, but one key component.

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 2.35.17 PM

GONE GIRL (2014)

Directed by David Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club, Se7en, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Starring Ben Affleck (Argo; The Town), Rosamund Pike (Pride and Prejudice; Die Another Day; Jack Reacher), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother), Tyler Perry (Diary of a Mad Black Woman; a bunch of other Tyler Perry movies etc).

Another quick post. Fincher and his cinematographer, frequent collaborator Jeff Cronenweth, keep the camera movement contained and reserved to establish a controlled, emotionally cold, reserved tone and a calculated sense of pacing. Since I am hypersensitive to cinematography when watching any film, I noticed that there was only one handheld shot throughout the entire ~2.5 hour film. Every other shot was either on a dolly, a jib, a tripod, a Steadicam (I don’t even know if Steadicam shots were used or if the shots I’m thinking of were done on modified carts/dollies), or some other sort of stabilizing device.

Because Fincher doesn’t use handheld shots often, it’s extremely apparent and effective when he does. This shot comes right after (SPOILER ALERT) we learn that Amy was supposedly pregnant. Nick is escorted into a police car to avoid an angry mob, and we get a shaky shot walking towards the car. I’m not sure if it is a POV shot or not. You can see the shot for a fraction of a second in the trailer embedded below, around 1:58. We feel shaken, disrupted. Nick has lost control of the situation (he is addressing a crowd, pleading for sympathy, and then a friend of Amy’s shouts out that she was pregnant, and all hell breaks lose). This is also the first point in the film at which I seriously considered the possibility that Nick did indeed kill Amy.

The take home? Sometimes things aren’t effective solely through their usage. Sometimes they need to mostly not be used in order to be effective when they are used.

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